A hospital artwork celebrating the lives of individuals who have posthumously donated their organs has been honoured with a significant design award.

The ‘Tree of Life’ at Bradford Royal Infirmary, a part of the Bradford Teaching Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust, clinched the gold award at this year’s International Architecture and Design Awards.

The sculpture secured the Healthcare Interior Design Build prize and was commissioned by the Trust’s organ donation team. They collaborated with artists from the Hospital Art Studio, based in Leeds, to conceptualise and create this award-winning piece.

Clinical Lead for Organ Donation, Dr James Morgan said: “We are absolutely delighted to hear that our ‘Tree of Life’ – situated on our main concourse – has won this award as a lot of time and energy went into this lasting tribute to organ donors.

“The artwork welcomes people into our Trust and we sincerely wanted it to be an uplifting and permanent memorial to our organ donors and their families.

“It is a timely and daily reminder to colleagues, patients and visitors of the great gift of life that many from our community have so generously donated in their death.”

The complete sculpture stands at a height of eight metres and showcases a printed design resembling aged copper, capturing the essence of an autumnal theme. Each distinct bird has been precisely laser-cut from brushed aluminium composite, embellished with a varnish finish, and affixed to the wall using stand-off fixings, creating a captivating sense of dimension.

Specialist Nurse for Organ Donation (SNOD), Raz Igasan, added: “As well as being a lasting tribute, the tree aims to generate awareness about organ donation among our patients and visitors here in Bradford as the city has an overwhelming large amount of black, Asian and minority ethnic (BAME) patients waiting for organs on the transplant list.

This award is an incredible tribute to the work of former clinical lead for organ donation, Andy Baker and SNOD Jenny Hughes, who collaborated with Hospital Art Studio on the design of the artwork back in 2020. The artwork was inspired by a poem written by Karen Van de Bospoort, one of the Directors of Hospital Art Studio. The last verse of the poem reads:

‘As red light turns gold, birds begin to sing, and all at once the apple tree is brought to life. Thrushes, wrens, blue tits, long-tailed tits. Their plump bodies replaced last season’s apples. A glut of winter fruits.’

Karen explained: “We selected a glossy, metallic finish for the artwork, allowing the birds and tree to glisten under different daylight conditions. The composition integrates birds in flight around the tree, symbolising individuals who have received a new organ and consequently broken free from the constraints of deteriorating health, embracing the newfound freedom it entails.

“Birds native to rural areas around Bradford were chosen such as blue-tit, swallow and little owl. Above the tree is the lettering ‘the gift of life’ fitted with spacers to create a strong, central focal point.”

Bradford Teaching Hospitals’ Chief Executive, Professor Mel Pickup, concluded; “We hope the tree will continue to inspire our colleagues, patients and visitors to register as organ donors and take the time to tell their loved ones of their decision.

“To win this national design award is testimony to the legacy of our organ donors and their families.

“I’d also like to thank the Trust’s organ donation committee for their continued dedication to transplantation and to Hospital Art Studio for their collaboration in turning our ideas into this magnificent and thought-provoking memorial.”